Studs and duds: September 10 – September 16

Teoscar Hernandez’s reign ends, but he was just replaced by another Blue Jay.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). Oh my Lourde, I cannot get over how well the Blue Jays are doing.

And Gurriel is a big part of it—in the past week, he’s slashed .435/.536/.870 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 5 walks in 23 at-bats. The Cuban defector has been a steady, consistent performer since joining Toronto at 24 years old in 2018, hitting .283 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI this year and .285 with 61 home runs and 198 RBI for his career.

The slugger has really ratcheted it up over the past couple months, however, batting .361/.431/.639 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI in 33 games since August 10; the excellent on-base percentage is incredible, as he owns a mediocre .327 mark on the year and for his career. His average is .385 this month and .321 in the second half.

Not bad, not bad. Also not too shabby: His brother. The elder Yuli, of the Astros, is hitting .315 this season after clobbering 31 home runs with 104 RBI in 2019.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .481/.533/.815, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R)

Anderson has batted .319 in 282 games since 2019. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Tim Anderson (SS, White Sox). Uh, this is the same Tim Anderson that was an All-Star this year, right? And the one who won a batting crown in 2019? And a Silver Slugger in 2020? Like Gio Urshela before him, the return from the injured list hasn’t been pleasant for Anderson, who in two games has committed 3 errors, while going 2-for-10 with 5 strikeouts at the plate.

Unlike previous duds, this poor sampling is just a blip—Anderson is still batting .300 on the year—and he’ll likely return to his usual self soon. Last month, he hit .315 with a .543 slugging mark.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-16, 6 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray stays on top after striking out 21 batters to just 2 walks in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts.

I’ve gone on about Ray plenty in the past, but I have to be cautious. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder: 6.8 of his 15.2 career WAR have come this season alone, while before 2021, he was 49-51 with a 4.26 ERA and 103 ERA+.; this year, he is 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 167 ERA+. He’s always been a master of the strikeout, however, as prior to this campaign he averaged 11.1 per nine innings, while his number is 11.8 this year.

I’m not confident Ray will ever duplicate this season. His trajectory is looking a bit like Dallas Keuchel’s—an underwhelming first few years, a Cy Young season in his prime, then a slide into good-very good territory.

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 1.50 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). It is going to be a while before anyone worsts this hurler’s 2 blown saves, 2 losses, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 home run and 6 runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings over the past week.

Despite his recent cold streak, Wells, a 2020 Rule V Draft pick taken from the Twins, has been one of the Orioles’ most-used relievers this season. Appearing in 40 games (fifth-most on the club), he has—despite his 4.17 ERA—been one of its best pitchers, as well. His 112 ERA+ is second among active relief pitchers on the club, behind only Cole Sulser’s 157.

He’s not what I would call a bright spot, but at least he doesn’t make Baltimore fans groan in agony every time he takes the field … unlike the majority of the team.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 9 – September 15

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Tally another hit and RBI for Hernandez last night. Since September 9, he’s slashed .516/.571/.839 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, meaning that he hasn’t had an average under .500 in any given seven-day span since that ending September 12.

Granted, his week’s performance is heavily weighted by a 5-for-5 game against Tampa Bay on the 13th, as well as a 5 RBI showing against Baltimore the day before. I’ve made the point recently, but it’s worth reiterating: Hernandez’s hot hitting could not have come at a better time. The slugger is a huge reason Toronto is in the thick of the wild card race.

 Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .393/.485/.750, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R).

Despite his anemic career line, Young still owns a decent 109 OPS+. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks). It hasn’t been a pleasant week … or season … or career … for Young, who over the past seven days went 2-for-16 with 6 strikeouts and a couple errors. The infielder has struck out 45 times in 91 at-bats this season and carries a line of .209/.298/.484. His slugging mark is solid as 7 or his 19 hits were doubles, while 6 went over the fence.

Last year, he batted .192 in 26 at-bats; for his career, he’s hitting .205 with 55 Ks in 117 at-bats. Uninspiring though his performance might be, Young is lucky to be in the major leagues at all as he was a 37th round pick in 2016. Such high rounds don’t produce too many big leaguers (he’s the only one from 2016 to reach the majors so far).

 Dishonorable mention: Josh VanMeter (IF, Diamondbacks; 1-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). So far I’ve counted three Toronto players in this piece that are either studs or honorable mentions. It makes sense the Blue Jays are doing so well right now.

Ray won his 12th game last night, striking out 13 batters and allowing just one run in 7 innings; over the past week, he’s tossed 11 1/3 frames and struck out 21 batters. Even on the 10th, when he lasted less than 5 innings and surrendered 8 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs against Baltimore, he still managed 8 Ks.

He has developed into one of the game’s premier strikeout pitchers and now leads the American League in that category with 233; he’s also pacing the loop in ERA (2.64), starts (29), innings pitched (177 1/3), ERA+ (167) and H/9 (6.9). His career 11.3 K/9 ratio is most all-time, but it is trailed closely by Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.

Honorable mention: Nestor Cortes Jr. (SP, Yankees; 12 1/3 IP, 16 K, 2.19 ERA).

Wells debuted with a scoreless inning against Boston on April 4. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Most struggling teams usually have at least one bright spot. For the Orioles, Wells isn’t it.

The rookie blew both his save opportunities and earned two losses this past week, surrendering 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. It sullies what was a decent campaign: Prior to imploding, he hadn’t allowed a run in 11 straight appearances and had brought his season mark down to 3.27.

But with relievers, all it takes is a couple bad outings to ruin a good thing, and that is exactly what happened. Wells’ mark is now up to 4.17, though his K/9 IP ratio is still a solid 10.7. If he can get the long ball under control, he could be a solid pitcher. He’s surrendered 9 home runs in 54 innings this season.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: August 30 – September 5

Frank Schwindel is a feel good story. Let’s enjoy his excellent play while he’s on top. Also, Robbie Ray is back.

Two thumbs up to you, too, Frank. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Schwindel is certainly the least likely Stud we’ve had so far. The 29-year-old rookie, who debuted two years ago with a 1-for-15 showing for Kansas City, has hit an incredible .462/.500/1.038 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored over the past week. And he’s not swinging randomly and getting lucky—in 26 at-bats, he has just 3 strikeouts.

With three 3-hit games in a row, he is riding a seven-game hitting streak and hasn’t gone more than one game without a knock since August 21. Since being selected off waivers by Chicago from Pittsburgh on July 18, he has hit .370/.409/.706 with 10 home runs, 8 doubles, 29 RBI and 22 runs scored. His season average has gone from .143 to .338 in a little more than a month.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gourriel (OF, Blue Jays; .389/.450/.944, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 GS).

Offensive dud: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers). Culberson’s shoddy performance over the past seven days (1-for-6, 2 K, 3 E) keeps him in this inglorious position. Depressed offensive statistics are the norm for the utilityman, who last year had an OPS+ of 2 in 9 games with Atlanta and who, in 95 games with Colorado in 2014, slashed just .195/.253/.290 with 62 strikeouts in 210 at-bats. Though his defensive versatility is a plus, his defense as a whole is middling, as his career dWAR is -1.5. On the bright side, he ranks sixth in the American League in sacrifice hits this season, with 4.

Dishonorable mention: Ryan McKenna (OF, Orioles; 1-for-11, 8 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Another week, another incredible run by Robbie Ray. In 13 2/3 frames over his past two starts, both of which he won, Ray Ked 20 men and walked just 4; batters hit .111 against him and scored just 2 earned runs. That brings his ERA since June 1 to 2.05 in 114 innings.

While Toronto has pitched well this season—their 3.89 team ERA is fifth-best in the American League—Ray and his league-leading 2.60 ERA and 172 ERA+ stand head and shoulders above the rest of the staff. No other starter has an mark under 3.63 (Alek Manoah).

If I was a betting man, I would say the Cy Young race will be between Ray and Gerrit Cole, who is 14-6 with a 2.73 ERA and league-leading 215 strikeouts. For his part, Ray is also pacing the loop in innings pitched (166), batters faced (657) and H/9 IP ratio (6.7).

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 11 2/3 IP, 15 K, 2.31 ERA).

Pitching dud: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles). Tate won’t go away for another day; because of his poor play, he’s here to stay. Three losses in three appearances will do that to you, especially when your job is to, uh, maintain the lead. Andres Machado (2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV) and Joe Smith (1/3 IP, 2 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV) were close on his tail, but his futility keeps him here yet again. I’d say, “send him packing, Baltimore!” but who, really, can replace him?

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV).

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 1, 2021.

Leody’s ready for launch: Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras hasn’t had what you’d call a good season, or a decent one, or even a bad one. In fact, it’s been downright awful, with the 22-year-old hitting .099 in 71 at-bats. But he’s making his hits counts: He’s walloped a home run in each of the past two games and his last three knocks were for extra bases.

Not a big diel: Nationals outfielder Yadiel Hernandez was batting .314 as recently as August 6, but over the past month his mark is just .266. But even then, he’s produced: In 25 games, he has 3 homers, 9 RBI, 10 runs scored and 9 walks. The slugger had 33 home runs and 90 RBI at Triple-A in 2019, so greater numbers might be ahead.

Yadiel Hernandez debuted with Washington in 2020. (Wikipedia).

Triple-A awaits: Twins starter Griffin Jax had a 7.00 ERA in 5 August starts; his mark over his last two was 13.97. In 53 2/3 innings this year, he’s surrendered 16 home runs. Perhaps a little more time on the farm is what he needs.

Brewers churn out one more: The Brewers have a knack for churning out great young (or, at least, rookie) relievers. In the past few seasons, they’ve had Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel, to name a few. Well, add Jake Cousins to the list. The rookie righthander has 36 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA in 22 appearances so far this year. In the past week, he’s Ked 9 batters in 3 1/3 innings.

Ray is #1: With his stellar 10-strikeout performance on August 30, Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray now holds the all-time number 1 spot for strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio. His mark is currently 11.177. He’s trailed closely by Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, so the lead could fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis.

A new record is imminent: In this day and age of batters striking out like madmen, a pitcher is bound to set the record for most strikeouts in a game soon. The current mark of 20 is held by four men and was most recently achieved by Max Scherzer on May 11, 2016.

Speaking of strikeouts: This season, teams are averaging one strikeout per inning, or 9 per game. In 2010, it was just 7.1 per 9 frames. In 2000: 6.5. In 1990: 5.7. How much higher will it go?

Flash from the past: The Angels have a young hurler named Packy Naughton. Does that name not sound like it belongs to someone who played in 1890? Right next to Doggie Miller, Pretzels Getzien and Jocko Halligan. Another anachronistic name was that of Red Patterson, who played for the Dodgers in 2014. He was the first Red to debut since Red Witt in 1957.

Jeff Kent has been on the Hall of Fame ballot eight times and has never earned more than 32.4% of the vote. (Wikipedia).

Big milestones, no Hall: Only two second basemen have at least 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,000 RBI: Jeff Kent and Robinson Cano. Both have Hall of Fame numbers, but there’s a good chance neither will get the call.

Maybe there’s a chance: With the Mets winning again last night, their magic number to overtake the Braves is 37. Baseball-Reference says they now have a 2.4% chance of making the playoffs. Jose Martinez and Jose Peraza are rehabbing and bound to be back. Noah Syndergaard is getting close. In fact, James McCann, Tomas Nido and a whole slew of players are due to return in the first week of September. Tug, is that you?  … you gotta believe …

Couldn’t bring it home: The only players with more than twenty stolen bases and fewer than twenty runs scored in a season are Donell Nixon (1987, 21 SB, 17 R), Harry Pattee (1908, 24, 19) and Chippy McGarr (1888, 25, 17). It’s quite an impressive feat, since speedy guys, it seems, usually score more.

A double’s better than nothing: The record for most doubles in a season with no other extra base hits was set by Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins in 1907. He had 29 doubles and not one triple or home run. The career record is 17, set by Jon Lieber, Lynn McGlothen and Clem Koshorek. Lieber and McGlothen were pitchers, Koshorek an infielder.

Bill Dammann wasn’t long for the majors, but he won 20-plus games in the minors a couple times. (Wikipedia).

Three’s all I need: Who had the most triples in a season without any other extra base hits? You have to go back in time for these guys, but in 1871, John McMullin managed 5 three-base hits without another EXBH. In 1914, George Twombly did the same thing. The career record is 6, held by Bill Dammann. Most incredibly, Dammann was a pitcher.

Now home runs: Most home runs in a season without a double or triple? Six. It’s actually happened seven times, most recently by Carlos Zambrano in 2006. Babe Ruth did it, too. As of this writing, Royals outfielder Edward Olivares has 5 dingers without an extra base hit this year, so he might join the club or break the record.  The career record is 4 and is owned by two current guys who, more than likely, will hit another EXBH eventually: The Indians’ Daniel Johnson and the Cardinals’ Justin Williams.

Ultimate singles hitters: And finally, which player had the most hits in a season without an extra base hit? Old time catcher Bill Holbert had 50 in 1879, all of which were singles; the year before, just 2 of his 32 knocks went for extra bases. He slugged .232 for his career. A few years later, in 1890, another catcher named Herman Pitz had 47 hits—all singles. That was his only year in the big leagues, so he owns the record for most career hits without an extra base hit.

Happy birthday, Chuck: Chuck Tompkins, born in 1889, was born on this day. He pitched a single game for the Reds in 1912. He owns both a career 0.00 ERA and 1.000 batting average.

Wagnon dies: Dwayne Wagnon, who pitched a couple years in the Reds system in the early 2000s, died August 21. He had a 2.88 ERA in 20 games in the low minors.

Studs and duds: August 25 – August 31

Salvy and Ray appear here to stay.

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). Hunker down, Perez might own this title for a while. Though he went hitless yesterday, he helped his team by getting on base with a hit by pitch and scoring a run.

It’s not a great single-game performance, but still, over the past week, his line is .333/.429/.958 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 6 runs scored. And slugging dingers is almost all he’s done: He’s managed no other extra base hits since August 13, smashing 9 dingers since that date.

He might be insulted if you call him this, but Perez is a ball magnet—with 10 HBPs on the year, he currently ranks seventh in the American League in that category.

Honorable mention: Bryce Harper (OF, Phillies; .519/.576/1.074, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 2B).

Odor stinks! (Get it?) (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Rougned Odor (IF, Yankees). Once upon a time, going on a decade ago, Odor was a top prospect in the Rangers system. He hammered out three 30-plus home run seasons and played all 162 games in 2017.

Ahh, reminiscing. Since 2019, he’s hit .201/.276/.423 with an OPS+ of 81.

For his career, he’s been in the top five in errors committed by a second baseman each year since 2015 and has led the league five times.

In the past week, he added another error and went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts at the plate; on the year, he’s batting just .211 with 90 Ks in 299 at-bats.

The only Odor here is a stinky one.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-15, 7 K).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). No pitcher matched Ray’s recent performance (14 IP, 24 K, 1.93 ERA)—and that will be difficult to do—so he’s the Stud for another day.

With modern batters swinging wildly and Ray the best at getting them to do it, he now ranks #1 all-time in career strikeouts per nine innings ratio at 11.18. The next-closest hurler is the Red Sox Chris Sale at 11.10. In fact, the top five in that category are all active (as are seven of the top ten), so leadership might fluctuate day to day and month to month.

Honorable mention: Blake Snell (SP, Padres; 14.2 IP, 20 K, 2 BB, 0.61 ERA).

Smith is one of only a handful of players who debuted in 2007 that are still playing. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Smith also retains his title, having taken two losses, blown two saves and posted an 11.57 ERA over his last few games. It is a rough tumble for the hurler who, despite his misstep, still ranks among the best non-closing relief pitchers ever. He leads active hurlers with 823 career appearances and is 48th all-time in that category, one spot ahead of a starter, Nolan Ryan.

Dishonorable mention: Edgar Garcia (RP, Twins; 1 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 3 BB. 4 H, 1 WP).

Studs and duds: August 24 – August 30

Salvador Perez and Robbie Ray—we’ve been seeing these guys a lot lately, haven’t we?

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). He didn’t even play yesterday and still outpaces anyone else. In the last week, Perez has 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 5 runs scored; he’s tied with the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom for most home runs and holds the lead in RBI over the past seven days. His slash line is .323/.393/.920—that OBP is especially stunning, as his career mark is barely .300. The catcher is currently riding a tidy five-game hitting streak and has 12 home runs, 28 RBI and a 1.022 OPS since the beginning of August.

Tommy Edman leads the NL with 35 doubles and 512 at-bats. (Wikipedia).

There’s not much to say outside of what’s already been said at this point besides, perhaps, let’s go Salvador!

Honorable mention: Tommy Edman (3B, Cardinals; .414 BA, 2 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela continued his slide last night, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. That unsavory line puts him at 1-for-17 with 4 Ks and a tiny OPS of .059 since his return to New York’s lineup on August 26. Though usually adept defensively, he also committed a couple errors, bringing his season total to 8. Sounds like a case of return-from-the-IL jitters, if you ask me.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-17, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). While Perez keeps cranking on offense, Ray is dropping stellar start after stellar start on the mound. With 10 strikeouts yesterday, he passed Gerrit Cole for the American League lead with 202 Ks on the season. It is his fourth-career 200 strikeout campaign and first since 2019.

Over his past two games, Ray has 24 Ks in 14 innings, allowing only 9 hits, 3 walks and 3 earned runs, to give him a 1.93 ERA. His season mark has gone down with each start since July 28 and now stands at 2.71—and is 1.72 in that stretch.

In his first 13 starts, the hurler had a 3.50 ERA; in the 13 games since, it’s been 2.02. With numbers like this, fans of the future will be scratching their heads looking at his line and wondering why he didn’t even make the All-Star team.

Honorable mention: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox; 2-0, 1.38 ERA, 18 K, 13 IP).

From 2011 to 2014, Joe Smith had a 2.25 ERA in 289 games. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Well, it seems the steady, reliable, sidearming relief pitcher Joe Smith is no more. We’ve been left with a shoddy simulacrum who’s pitched to the tune of a 5.79 ERA in 41 appearances this year.

His past few have been especially horrid: In 3 games, he’s tossed 1 2/3 innings and allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs for an 11.57 ERA. Relative to past duds, that performance is downright excellent, but his 2 losses and 2 blown saves really bring him down.

Smith began the year with a 7.48 ERA in 27 games with Houston, but was traded to Seattle on July 27. And with the Mariners he’s performed well—a 2.45 ERA in 14 games, despite his rough patch—and looks more like the Smith of old. Before this year, he had a 2.98 ERA in 782 career games. This campaign has raised it to 3.10.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 1 IP, 5 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 0-1, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 20 – August 26

Salvador Perez was cranking this past week, but it wasn’t good enough to make him the Offensive stud. 

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). After a 1-for-3 performance yesterday, which included a double, run and RBI, Merrifield maintains his title for one more day. His most recent showing puts him at .387/.412/.645 with 9 RBI, 7 runs and 2 stolen bases over the past week. Having not gone more than one game without a hit since August 6, Merrifield is batting .306 on the month, after hitting just .229 in July. August is usually his best month and he should cool off soon—though even his career September numbers (.296 BA, 35 SB) are still pretty solid.

Aristides Aquino has 125 home runs in 10 minor league seasons (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez (C, Royals; 6 H, 5 HR, 8 RBI).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino was a pleasant surprise for the Reds in 2019, slugging .576 with 19 home runs in only 56 games. Fast forward to 2021 and those good feelings are gone. Hitting just .189 on the year, Aquino was 0-for-15 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days and his average is just .141 in 71 at-bats since July 25. Perhaps the slumping slugger is lucky to be in the majors at all—he began his professional career with two sub .200 seasons and as recently as 2017, hit .216 at Double A. Though he has great power, thrice crushing 20 or more home runs in the minors, whatever skill he has hasn’t translated consistently on the big stage. But all hope isn’t lost—he’s from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and there’s something about sluggers from that city putting it all together later in their careers. David Ortiz didn’t get going until he was 27, Nelson Cruz until he was 28 and Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista until they were 29.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds; 0-for-7, 4 K, 1 E).

Quite a turnaround: Robbie Ray had an 8.16 ERA his rookie year with the Tigers. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). The Cy Young Award is becoming more and more of a reality. Over his past two starts, Ray has pitched 15 innings and Ked 25 batters—while walking just 1. With 2 earned runs allowed, his ERA was 1.20, helping bring his August mark down to 1.59 and his number from the beginning of July—that’s 10 starts—to 1.78. His 14 strikeouts his last time out left him just 8 away from 200 on the season. Should he get there, and it’s all but a given he will, Ray will have four 200 K campaigns under his belt. Toronto received the hurler in a steal of a trade from Arizona, surrendering only pitcher Travis Bergen, who’s made just 39 appearances in his career, to get him. What’s more—the Blue Jays bought Bergen back from the Diamondbacks earlier this year.

Honorable mention: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 2/3 IP, 18 K, 2 BB, 0.71 ERA).

Pitching dud: Genesis Cabrera (RP, Cardinals). Having blown two saves and taken a couple losses, this past week might be the genesis of his departure from the majors. Cabrera made 3 appearances, surrendering 3 earned runs in the first one and 6 earned runs in the last, to give him a 40.50 ERA. He allowed 10 hits, including back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back knocks against Pittsburgh yesterday. Because of that performance, his season ERA went from 2.96 on August 19 to 4.29 and his career mark went from 3.23 to 3.99. On the bright side, he strikes out a lot of batters, averaging 10.2 K/9 IP this year.

Dishonorable mention: Lou Trivino (RP, Athletics; 4 G, 0-3 W-L, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 19 – August 25

Whit Merrifield leads the American League in stolen bases since he debuted in 2016. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). Merrifield has been cranking this past week, hitting .364 with 7 runs scored, 8 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 33 at-bats. Though he’s not much of slugger, he clobbered a grand slam last night against the Astros and is slugging .576 since August 19. An All-Star for the second time this season, Merrifield has compiled his share of black ink in a short, six-year career. He’s leading the league in games, at-bats and stolen bases this year and led each category twice before. He has also led the league in hits twice and triples once—not bad for a guy who didn’t debut until he was 27.

Honorable mention: Ty France (3B Mariners; .423 BA, .923 SLG, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R).

Offensive dud: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds). Having jumped from Single A to the majors in 2020, Barrero struggled in his first big league go-round by batting .194 in 24 games. Take two hasn’t been much better, as the 23-year-old has just 2 hits in 9 at-bats this year. Over the past week, he’s gone 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts and an error, but there is good news: He batted .303/.378/.532 in the minors this year, including a .305/.389/.584 line in 40 games at Triple A. Barrero was formerly Jose Garcia, but changed his name in May in honor of his mother, who passed away.

Dishonorable mention: Isan Diaz (2B, Marlins; 1-for-14, 8 K).

Robbie Ray averaged 209 strikeouts per year from 2016 to 2019, with a high of 235 in 2019. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray is leading the American League with 192 strikeouts this season, and is second in the majors behind Zack Wheeler’s 204. And if his last two starts are any indication, it is easy to see why. On August 20, he Ked 11 Tigers in 8 innings, then, on August 25, he added 14 more strikeouts to his ledger in 7 innings against the White Sox. That’s 25 Ks in 15 innings, to go along with a 1.20 ERA and just 1 walk allowed over the past week. After starting his season with a 3.81 mark through May, Ray has been lights-out since—from June 1 on, he is 7-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 16 starts. In 100 1/3 innings, he has 132 Ks to just 25 walks and 73 hits allowed. He’s in the running for the Cy Young Award according to ESPN’s Cy Predictor. It’ll be hard to ignore him if he keeps pitching like this.

Honorable mention: Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 14 1/3 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 1.26 ERA, .173 OBA).

Pitching dud: Noe Ramirez (RP, Diamondbacks). The issue with guys who are struggling is teams find it difficult to play them, so it is hard for them to recover and pull themselves away from this inglorious dishonor. And so it goes for Noe Ramirez, who—for the third straight day—is the Pitching Dud. Nothing has changed about his line from days past, but, at the same time, no one has performed any worse. Upon seeing he was named Dud of the Week yet again, I can only assume he responded with one thing: Oh noe.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 1 BSV, 54.00 ERA).